The Daily Telegraph - 06.08.2019

(C. Jardin) #1
14 ***^ Tuesday 6 August 2019 The Daily Telegraph


atie Alcock is an unlikely heretic.
For a decade she helped run
Brownie and Girl Guide groups
in Lancaster. Then she was expelled.
Girlguiding said she had violated its
policies on equality and diversity. Her
offence was to suggest that people
born male who now say they are
female should not automatically be
welcomed by a female-only
organisation and, for instance, share
tents or bathrooms with girls.
In any other context, Alcock’s views
would be uncontroversial.
Organisations like Girlguiding have
safeguarding policies to control
interactions between girls and those
whose male anatomy gives them the
potential to be a threat to those girls.

In any other context, Girlguiding
would stand squarely behind Alcock.
So why, when the interests of
transgender people are invoked, does
Girlguiding seem to apply a different
standard? It is far from alone.
Universities, local councils, the BBC,
and charities are among organisations
where women who question policies
intended to promote transgender
equality fear sanction and dismissal.
A common concern is that measures
intended to make life easier for people
born male who now identify as women
will have consequences for services
and opportunities previously reserved
for people born with female bodies.
Toilets come up with depressing
frequency in this debate. Lots of
organisations are adopting “gender
neutral” bathrooms, or renaming their
women’s toilets “gender neutral” to
spare transgender people the awkward
choice of whether to use the facility
that aligns with their physical sex or
their professed gender.
Yet what about women who aren’t
happy sharing such spaces with
biological males? Or who worry that
opening up services reserved for
women to male-born transwomen is
unfair on women who have faced a
lifetime of social and economic sexism?
I know women in half a dozen

organisations, mainly public sector
ones, who have such worries but say
they don’t dare raise the issue for fear
of violating diversity policies or of
being accused of prejudice. The
well-meaning drive to do better for
transgender people can leave women
feeling silenced. Strikingly, the
organisations responsible pride
themselves on being progressive,
inclusive employers who would never
dream of treating women so poorly in
other circumstances. So how does this
all come about?
This is a story of institutional
capture and skilful lobbying. Many
organisations embracing trans-
inclusive policies do so in light of
advice from trans-rights groups that
don’t just provide workplace training,
but also lobby politicians to change
laws and policies to favour
transgender people. There is nothing
untoward about the activities of
trans-rights groups such as Stonewall
and Gendered Intelligence, but it is a
fact that they are not neutral providers
of objective advice on implementing
equalities laws.
Such advocates can exert great
influence, partly because the law on
transgender rights is complex and
messy. Even the language can baffle.
Many public bodies routinely conflate

If even a Girl Guide leader

cannot express her doubts,
there can be no honest
debate about this issue



hether you are for
or against Brexit, it
is important to
recognise that there
is one undoubted
and unambiguous
advantage of it: that the UK will be able
to determine its own attitude to
immigration. The Government will,
provided it runs an efficient system of
border checks, decide who comes to
this country, why they are allowed in,
and when they have to leave.
Of all the reasons deployed in the
2016 referendum for voting Leave, this
was the most powerful, and perhaps
had the most justification. Europe will
be fortunate indeed if it avoids a far
more dramatic migration crisis in the
years to come than anything seen to
date, and when that happens the UK
will have the advantage of being able to
control its own frontiers.
Yet it is crucial that this new power
is seen not as a defensive measure and
a chance to pull up the drawbridge, but
as an opportunity to bring in the
brilliant scientists, engineers, medical
researchers, software writers and
industrial innovators of the future.
This is the way to define leaving the EU
as global in its motivation rather than
insular, internationalist not narrow,

based on the needs of the future
instead of an attachment to the past.
Of course, any sensible immigration
policy requires keeping a lot of people
out, or restricting the period for which
they can come in. The untrammelled
freedom of movement of the EU will
need to be replaced with time-limited
visas for casual or unskilled workers,
or whatever reciprocal arrangements
are agreed for British nationals in EU
countries. These must be enforced so
that the electorate can have confidence
in a robust system of control.
Alongside establishing those limits,
however, we British should make clear
we are opening our arms to the most
talented people on Earth. We already
have the advantage of being home to
four of the top 10 universities in the
world, the largest financial centre and
the most active concentration of
technology start-up businesses in
Europe. But the number of skilled
migrants from outside the EU has been
restricted to try to meet the infamous
“tens of thousands a year” target while
we have been unable to control
European migration.
There is a chance here to set the tone
of the UK’s relations with millions of
enterprising individuals all over the
world for decades to come. If we know
anything about the emerging “fourth
industrial revolution” it is that human
capital will be decisive. A country
where people are at the forefront of
breakthroughs in renewable energy,
digital communication, financial
payments, medical diagnosis, materials
science and AI is going to do well – and
a country without these things will fall
behind, no matter how many trade
deals it pursues.
We also know that there are serious
concerns about our performance in
this competition for human capital.
According to a report by Universities

UK, Britain faces a “talent deficit” of up
to 1.2 million skilled workers in the
financial, business, technology and
telecommunications sectors, and up to
600,000 in manufacturing. Nobel
prize-winning academics have long
warned that the cap on visas for skilled
workers risks undermining this
country as a place for major scientific
advances. And it is clear that all the
aspirations for making Britain a highly
connected nation with universally fast
broadband, fibre connections and 5G
networks can only be met if we bring
in more workers with the skills to set
these things up.
On top of these dangers, leading
scientists believe a no-deal Brexit
could seriously damage scientific
research – one in every three research
papers in the UK is co-authored by an
EU scientist. The president of the
Royal Society has warned that a
sudden rupture with the EU could
“stop valuable research in its tracks”.
Boris Johnson and his team should
take urgent, bold and imaginative
action to make sure Britain is the
natural home for global talent. Last
week he sent encouraging signals,
assuring EU citizens here that they can
stay, showing he’s not interested in
numerical immigration targets, and
asking for new recommendations from
the Migration Advisory Committee. He
should go with his instincts and make
the positive case for a system that is
closed to abuse but open to hard work
and ability.
A good start would be to stop
counting students in the immigration
numbers, provided they leave after
their studies. Hundreds of thousands
of them bring their talents, and their
cash, to our universities and often
develop a lifelong affection for this
country. Indeed, he could go further
and give special visas to those in

Brexit is an opportunity to

control migration, but also
to show we are a place
where the talented thrive



How trans orthodoxy is silencing women

A boost for

butterflies is also

excellent news

for humanity


ne of my earliest
memories is of my
gentle grandfather,
head gardener at a boys’
prep school, taking me by
the hand to look at the large
buddleia that grew just
outside his walled vegetable
garden, which kept 120
pupils in greens. Instead of
the familiar intense lilac, the
bush was a jewelled riot of
colour and, as we drew
closer, I could see it was
smothered with feasting
butterflies. It was a vision
straight out of Faerie: the
hues shimmering and
changing with the opening
and closing of the magic
creatures’ wings.
Looking back, my entire
childhood seemed filled
with butterflies: trapped
Red Admirals beating
against the windows of my
parents’ pub in Kent,
requiring careful capture
with a half-pint glass and
beer mat slid under the rim.
Or picnics on the hills above
the villages of Shoreham
and Eynsford in the Darent
Valley, where delicate Chalk
Hill blues could be caught, if
nimble, with bare hands.
That glorious abundance
withered away in my adult
life. Butterflies are the early
warning system of
ecological change, sensitive
to pesticides, urban sprawl,
mild winters, loss of wild
flowers and general changes
in the environment. The UK
Butterfly Monitoring
Scheme has recorded
decline in almost two thirds
of our native species since
records began in 1976.
But – hallelujah! – this
summer is expected to mark
a bumper year for
flutterbies, after a strong
showing last year. My big
sister reports the Cabbage
Whites are going great guns
on her Cambridge
allotment. The Common
Blue is also expected to
enjoy a particular boom this
August. Good tidings for
butterflies is also excellent
news for humanity. Aristotle
called the butterfly Psyche,
equating it with the soul,
and numerous other
cultures have made the
same association. A natural

“sex” and “gender”, which mean very
different things in law. “Sex” denotes a
person’s fundamental biology.
“Gender reassignment” indicates a
person is seeking to change the social
role in which they live; crucially, no
physiological change is required.
Imagine you are a public sector
manager trying to navigate this social
and legal minefield. An authoritative-
sounding group advises you that
failing to respect someone’s “gender
identity” could breach equality laws,
making no mention of your obligation
to consider sex, too. In the back of
your mind is the knowledge that if you
get this wrong, you could face a
career-ending accusation of
transphobia. Is it any wonder that so
many organisations subscribe to
trans-rights orthodoxy?
This is how Katie Alcock finds
herself having to sue Girlguiding to
have her concerns taken seriously.
And all of this is possible because
politicians have either refused to
engage in the complex, emotive debate
about sex and gender, or have simply
signed up to the trans-rights
orthodoxy without question or
scrutiny. The results are bad for
women and transgender people alike.
In the absence of leadership, Katie
Alcock’s case will not be the last.

Britain should open its doors to the

brilliant, the skilled and the bright

scientific and technical subjects who
want to carry on and work here,
provided they do so in their field of
The Government could also
accelerate setting up a much more
responsive “shortage occupation list”,
which identifies those jobs where we
just don’t have the necessary workers.
A recent review suggested broadening
this list to include software
development professionals,
programmers and web designers.
Again, ministers could build on this
idea by also making it easier for people
in “shortage” occupations to acquire
permanent residence.
For certain skills, the visa process
could be simplified and made much
cheaper. Scientists can be put off by
having to pay about £8,000 to get a
visa, vastly more than in most
comparable countries. The current
proposal of needing to earn £30,000 a
year to qualify as a skilled migrant
could be suspended for young people
entering much-needed university
Of course, we should also be trying
to produce all these skilled workers
here at home. But that will take a long
time, and will never mean we can do
without the best brains from the rest of
the world. So there is a powerful case
for new ministers to show that this
issue is at the heart of the positive
future they want to present for Britain.
Part of the challenge from
globalisation is that the most brilliant
people in the world want to work in
close proximity, concentrating wealth
and innovation in particular places.
But the solution to that cannot possibly
involve turning away those people.
Let’s encourage them to come to
Britain so that this country makes the
most of its advantages in a highly
competitive world.

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correlation when you dwell
on the metamorphosis from
chomping, earthbound
caterpillar, to eerie, inert
chrysalis and finally that
ethereal manifestation of
winged joy and escape.
In Irish folklore, white
butterflies represent the
souls of dead children, and
Filipinos still maintain a
superstitious belief that the
creatures are dead relatives
asserting their continued
presence from beyond the
grave. When you know this,
all those cheery Damien
Hirst butterflies take on a far
more sinister aspect – frozen
intimations of our mortality.
It’s a peculiar irony that
creatures which delight us
with the waywardness of
their erratic flight have been
so frequently chloroformed,
stabbed through with pins
and displayed behind glass.
In my 20s I knew a man who
was given to a spot of
amateur lepidopterology,
including the occasional
capture of common species.
I used to tease him by saying
whenever we observed
some living wonder: “It’s so
beautiful. Why don’t you kill
it?” Now I’d berate him
more fiercely. I don’t want
to see any jewel of nature
framed and displayed on a
living-room wall.
The happier alternative is
to turn our gardens into
summer butterfly galleries.
The trend for planting wild
meadows has played a part
in the butterfly revival and
it’s easy to track down
expert suggestions for other
flowers that will lure the
silk-winged spirits: verbena,
asters, snapdragons and
coneflowers crop up on
most lists. But if you want
one great big flutterby
honey-trap (with the caveat
to grow other plants too, as
it’s not a host plant for
native caterpillars) you can’t
go wrong with a buddleia.
As my grandfather could
have told you.

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